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Solar wind
speed: 306.6 km/sec
density: 2.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2251 UT Jan18
24-hr: C1
0553 UT Jan18
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 18 Jan 15
None of these sunspots poses a threat for strong flares. Solar activity is low. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 49
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 18 Jan 2015

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2015 total: 0 days (0%)

2014 total: 1 day (<1%)
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)

Update 18 Jan 2015

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 122 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 18 Jan 2015

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.3 nT
Bz: 2 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
Coronal Holes: 18 Jan 15
A A series of solar wind streams flowing from these minor coronal holes will buffet Earth's magnetic field from Jan. 19-22. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Noctilucent Clouds As of Nov. 22, 2014, the season for southern hemisphere noctilucent clouds is underway. The south polar "daisy" pictured below is a composite of near-realtime images from NASA's AIM spacecraft.
Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Penninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated at: 01-18-2015 18:55:03
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2015 Jan 18 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2015 Jan 18 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
25 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
20 %
30 %
30 %
40 %
30 %
Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015
What's up in space

Learn to photograph Northern Lights like a pro. Sign up for Peter Rosen's Aurora Photo Courses in Abisko National Park.

Lapland tours

MAGNETIC STORM STILL POSSIBLE THIS WEEKEND: Despite a very quiet weekend so far, NOAA forecasters are still predicting geomagnetic activity in response to an incoming solar wind stream. The odds of a polar geomagnetic storm on Jan. 18th are as high as 50%. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for Northern Lights. Aurora alerts: text, voice

INCREDIBLY LONG COMET TAIL: Standing under the stars in the countryside, people are looking up and seeing the green head of Comet Lovejoy not far from the Pleiades star cluster. There's also a hint of a tail, faint but long. Note to sky watchers: It's even longer than you think. Astrophotographers doing long exposures of the comet find that the tail extends an incredible 15o to 20o across the night sky. Alan Dyer, author of "How to Shoot Nightscapes and Timelapses", sends this picture from City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico:

"These images from show just how marvellous Comet Lovejoy's blue ion tail has become, at least to the eye of the camera," says Dyer. " It now stretches back at least 15°, perhaps as much as 20° with 'averted imagination'!" Click here to learn more about Dyer's photo settings.

For reference, a 20o long tail would stretch along the entire length of the Big Dipper, from handle to bowl. It is 40 times as wide as the full Moon.

Many observers have noted the similar colors of the Pleiades and the comet's tail. Both are a beautiful shade of cosmic blue. Despite their similar appearance, however, the two blues come from different physics. The comet's tail is blue because it contains ionized carbon monoxide (CO+), a gas which fluoresces blue in the near-vacuum of interplanetary space. The nebulosity surrounding the Pleiades is blue because grains of interstellar dust embedded in the gas scatter the blue light of hot young stars at the cluster's core.

Need help finding the comet? Check these finder charts from Sky & Telescope. Also, the Minor Planet Center has published an ephemeris for accurate pointing of telescopes.

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

SOMETHING AMAZING HAPPENING AT JUPITER: Jupiter and Earth are converging for a (relatively) close encounter in early February when the giant planet is at opposition--that is, directly opposite the sun in the midnight sky. This sets the stage for an extraordinary sequence of events. For the next couple of months, backyard sky watchers can see the moons of Jupiter executing a complex series of mutual eclipses and transits. Astrophotographer "Shiraishi" Kumagaya-shi, Saitama, Japan, captured this example on Jan. 17th:

"First, Ganymede partially eclipsed Callisto; then Europa partially eclipsed Io," says Shiraishi. "I did not need a telescope. To photograph this double mutual event, I used a Nikon Coolpix P510 digital camera set at ISO 800 for a series of 1/10s exposures."

The moons of Jupiter will be passing in front of one another and in front of Jupiter with fair frequency through March 2015 and beyond. This is happening because Jupiter's opposition on Feb. 6th coincides almost perfectly with its equinox on Feb. 5th (when the Sun crosses Jupiter's equatorial plane). It is an edge-on apparition of the giant planet that lends itself to eclipses, occultations and transits.

The next big event is right around the corner. On Jan. 24, 2015, beginning at approximately 06:26 UT (1:26 AM EST), the three moons Io, Callisto and Europa will simultaneously cast their inky shadows on Jupiter's cloudtops. This is called a "triple shadow transit," and it is rare. The timing favors observers in North America where the planet will be shining high in the sky in the constellation Leo. Anyone with a backyard telescope is encouraged to watch this easy-to-observe event. (Advice: Start watching at least 30 minutes ahead of time.)

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

  All Sky Fireball Network

Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on

On Jan. 18, 2015, the network reported 17 fireballs.
(16 sporadics, 1 alpha Hydrid)

In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]

  Near Earth Asteroids
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.
On January 18, 2015 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2015 AQ43
Jan 14
0.4 LD
10 m
2015 AH44
Jan 14
7.8 LD
53 m
1991 VE
Jan 17
40.6 LD
1.0 km
2015 AK1
Jan 18
5.6 LD
50 m
2015 BC
Jan 20
1.6 LD
66 m
2004 BL86
Jan 26
3.1 LD
680 m
2015 AK45
Jan 26
4.7 LD
23 m
2008 CQ
Jan 31
4.8 LD
36 m
2015 AZ43
Feb 15
7.7 LD
87 m
2000 EE14
Feb 27
72.5 LD
1.6 km
Notes: LD means "Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.
  Essential web links
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
  The official U.S. government space weather bureau
Atmospheric Optics
  The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
Solar Dynamics Observatory
  Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
  the underlying science of space weather
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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